Master gardeners host monarch migration celebration |
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Master gardeners host monarch migration celebration

Mary Pickels
Courtesy of Jackie Hochard
A tagged monarch butterfly.
Facebook | Journey North
A paper butterfly ready for "symbolic migration."

Children ages 5 to 12 are invited to learn about the fascinating world of monarch butterflies as Westmoreland County Master Gardeners host a “Monarch Migration Celebration.”

The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 7 at Penn State Extension’s Donohoe Center, 214 Donohoe Road, Hempfield.

The master gardeners will present an interactive monarch migration workshop, where children can learn how butterflies migrate and discover the challenges they face while traveling to and from their winter “home” in Mexico.

“This is a new event for us,” master gardener Linda Hyatt says.

Also planned are a puppet show, live music and creation of butterfly-themed crafts.

“I’ve wanted to do this for 10 years. It’s so interesting and so fun,” master gardener Jackie Hochard says.

As part of a nationwide children’s program, youngsters can participate in a “symbolic migration,” a program Hochard has done with area church and school groups.

They will make paper butterflies that will travel (by mail) to children in Mexico who live near the monarchs’ winter sanctuaries. The Mexican children will shelter the paper butterflies over the winter and return them in spring, completing a symbolic journey coinciding with the monarchs’ migration.

The master gardeners’ program will pick up the cost for children who participate in the Sept. 7 event, Hochard says.

She hopes to encourage more area teachers to participate as well, allowing classrooms of students to track their paper butterflies and learn about their life cycles.

Children will see demonstrations of how butterflies are tagged so their migration can be monitored.

Those attending are invited to wear wings or a butterfly costume. The day will conclude with a migration celebration parade and butterfly release.

“We are not doing a 400-plus butterfly release,” Hochard says. “We will take whatever butterflies we have that day from those of us (master gardeners) who raised them and tag and release. We will open up the cages and let them go.”

Adults are invited to pick up milkweed plants at the pollination information center and learn how to create a backyard habitat to support monarchs and other pollinators.

Guests can visit the Donohoe Center demonstration gardens, which include a variety of pollinator-friendly plants.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is requested by visiting the master gardeners’ Facebook page or

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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